Chapter 288 of Massachusetts Law went into effect in 1983, mandating that the Department of Children and Families refer cases involving child abuse including child pornography and exploitation, sexual abuse, severe physical abuse and neglect and deaths to the District Attorney. Since the law was passed, the numbers of cases being referred has had a significant impact on the resources of the District Attorney's office, local police, the Department of Children and Families and the mental health and medical communities.
Since October 1986, The Essex County Child Abuse Project has interviewed over 3000 children alleging sexual and physical abuse. The total number of referrals to the Project is now over 7200 and increasingly includes the physical abuse of children. More than 40% of the children referred are under the age of 6 years.
The sensitive nature of these difficult cases has warranted special attention and knowledge reaching beyond that which any one professional can provide during the initial screening and investigation phase. The multidisciplinary team investigation approach, proposed and supported by the District Attorneys and Department of Children and Families, addresses the critical therapeutic needs of victims and makes every effort to avoid re-traumatization and re-victimization during the investigative phase. In addition, a primary goal is to promote a coordinated systems response to child abuse within Essex County.